GAA | O’Mahony’s get league season off to a winning start against depleted Gaels

Division One | Sean O’Mahony’s 1–10 Dundalk Gaels 0–4

Sean O’Mahony’s Kurt Murphy gets away from Dundalk Gaels’ Sean Murray. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Gavin McLaughlin reports from the Point Road

County champions Sean O’Mahony’s got their Division One League campaign off to a winning start with a comprehensive victory over an injury hit Dundalk Gaels at the Point Road on Saturday evening.

Leading by a point at the break, the O’Mahony’s looked a lot more fluid than their opponents in the second half with Conor Martin’s 37th minute goal, combined with Stephen Kilcoyne’s fine finishing, helping them to a comfortable nine-point margin of victory.

Few would have predicted that ending after watching the opening 30 minutes. Played in front of a good crowd, the first half of the season’s maiden town derby was a typically hard fought affair with referee David Fedigan reaching for his notebook on several occasions.

O’Mahony’s forward Ben McLaughlin and Gaels defender Conor Morgan both got gate before the break for their part in a schmozzle that threatened to spill out of control before things eventually fizzled out.

In truth, the game needed something like that to spark it into life after a tentative opening half an hour which saw both sides take some time to shake off the cobwebs and get back into the rhythm of league football.

Ben, the youngest of the three McLaughlin brothers on show, opened the scoring with a delicious effort from the left before the Gaels took the upper hand with a Jason Clarke free followed by a couple of well-worked scores from of Gerard McSorley and Sean Murray.

Errol Boyle then rolled back the years with a driving run and finish to match to extend the Rampart side’s lead to three in the 17th minute but it proved to be their final score of the game.

Kilcoyne hit a brace of frees before Keith McLaughlin let the Gaels off the hook when he took possession of a dropping Liam Dullaghan ball but fired wide with Gaels goalkeeper Micheal Lambert caught in no man’s land.

A bout of handbags between Boyle and O’Mahony’s forward Stephen Fisher hinted at what was to come and the game exploded into life on the half hour mark when a host of players from both sides squared up to each other after Niall McLaughlin was left in a heap.

Tempers flare between Sean O’Mahony’s and Dundalk Gaels. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

The fracas ended with Gaels defender Conor Morgan requiring a new shirt but he didn’t get a chance to wear it in action as referee Fedigan dismissed him and Ben McLaughlin for their part in the incident.

Conor Finnegan drew the sides level from the subsequent free and, crucially, the O’Mahony’s went in front just before the break when Kilcoyne took a Keith McLaughlin pass to angle over another well taken score.

The second-half proved to be lot more one sided with the O’Mahony’s taking a firm grip on things after McSorley saw an effort from distance kiss the post and drop wide.

Martin’s goal put the hosts three points ahead, the Louth midfielder rising highest at the far post to smack a Johnny Connolly shot that was dropping short past the helpless Lambert.

With a host of experienced players missing, the Gaels struggled to make an impression against a rugged O’Mahony’s backline marshalled by the excellent John O’Brien and Mickey Clarke.

And the O’Mahony’s opened up with Kilcoyne leaving Adrian Rafferty in his slipstream before firing over the bar and Finnegan splitting the posts with another free, 1–7 to 0–4.

Derek Crilly dragged a free wide with what proved to be the visitors’ last real opening before Fedigan had to deal with another flare up in the 50th minute, the Hunterstown official brandishing four yellow cards with one shake of the wrist!

The final 10 minutes drifted by with the O’Mahony’s in cruise control as Finnegan, Liam Dullaghan and Kilcoyne put the seal on the win.

SEAN O’MAHONY’S: Seamus Quigley; Kurt Murphy, Ronan Byrne, Michael Clarke; Niall McLaughlin, John O’Brien, Liam Dullaghan (0–1); Conor Martin (1–0), Shane Brennan; Conor Finnegan (0–3, 3f), Keith McLaughlin, Jonathan Connolly; Stephen Kilcoyne (0–5, 2f), Ben McLaughlin (0–1), Stephen Fisher. Subs: Colin Finan for N McLaughlin, 30 mins; Chris O’Neill for K McLaughlin; 55 mins; Sean Matthews for S Kilcoyne, 59 mins.

DUNDALK GAELS: Micheal Lambert; Oisin Murray, Peter McGinnity, Conor Morgan; Emmett Lindsay, Errol Boyle (0–1), Sean Murray (0–1); Derek Crilly, Gerard Fee; Shane Rice, Jason Clarke (0–1, 1f), Adrian Rafferty; Chris Sweeney, Stephen Murphy, Gerard McSorley (0–1). Subs: Eanna McArdle for S Murphy, 42 mins; Niall Hearty for C Sweeney, 46 mins.

REFEREE: David Fedigan.

You can listen to John O’Brien’s reaction to his side’s win and view pictures from the game by Ciaran Culligan below.

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